Once-a-month-cooking is a style of meal preparation where you prepare enough dinners for a month in one day, then freeze them. This can reduce impact in a number of ways:
- Cuts down on trips to the grocery store, and lowers your weekly groceries enough that you might be able to bike for the rest of your shopping trips (or use a stroller with storage, if you have young kids).
- Allows you to buy bulk, reducing packaging
- Allows you to combine certain energy-consuming steps for some meals so you only use energy once but prep in bulk, e.g., sauteing veggies for multiple meals or browning ground beef. You can even cook two meals at once, freeze one, and then use the microwave to reheat it a week or two later – overall using less energy than heating the oven twice while still getting that oven-cooked flavor
- Encourages you to avoid restaurants and convenience foods that tend to have a larger impact both on the earth and on your wallet
Most people who do this need a deep freezer, which does use some energy, but with a second-hand energy-efficient chest freezer (stand-ups are more convenient but less efficient) it’s actually very, very little (our electricity costs for the freezer are about $2.50 a month).
Search online for “Once a month cooking” to find techniques, tips, and recipes.
The non-environmental advantages to this are:
(a) Prepping this way is much faster than prepping and cooking a meal every day. I can pre-prep one to two dozen meals in a single day, depending on how much I plan beforehand and how repetitive the meals are. If you prep 3 months worth of the same two meals (with some variation so they don’t get boring – e.g., bean soups with different beans and seasonings, or pizzas with different toppings) in one day, it can go really fast – and after three months, you’ll have a different meal every night of the week for 6 days out of your week.
(b) You are less likely to eat out or buy heavily processed convenience foods on a busy night if you have meals ready to go at home. This is both cheaper and (for most of us) more nutritious. Plus, using raw ingredients like rice or beans is much easier if you can cook or soak weeks worth all at once – so you are more likely to use these healthy, affordable kinds of ingredients.
(c) You can do OAMC with friends, which can both make it more efficient and more fun – plus results in more variety – or make it a family activity.
OAMC is sort of the opposite of “slow food”, which I also think is a great movement, but it still accomplishes many of the same goals for families that really don’t have the time or budget for a perfectly cooked, super-fresh meal each evening. People who normally can’t do “slow food” may actually find that OAMC frees up enough time that they can actually spend more time on finding good food sources, eating meals slowly and truly enjoying them, and really making food a way to connect again.
This post was submitted by Ethel.
I’m vegan now about 2 years and buy everything I can from the local farmers market. Veggies & fruits are fresher and generally cost less. I feel I’m choosing an ethical path regarding fellow earthlings and I know I’m financially supporting my community as well.
I also search out anything I need via the used market first – It’s more fun, economical and gives “old” items a second life! And I don’t throw anything that still has a use – I tub the items up for my own garage sales.
I also patrol my local parks for discarded aluminum cans & have a hand crusher so hundreds of them can fit in a smaller space.
This post was submitted by Bea Elliott.
I wasn’t sure how else to reach you but I just wanted to write and say Thanks! I heard you speak at the library last night (I was the girl on your far right up front- that came in late) I just wanted to shake your hand and say:
You did such a good job! Thank U for being here
To see a place (HP) that’s always represented affluence responding to your message- that means a lot.
It was especially inspiring to hear the personal invocation.
- Thryn, a liberal arts grad pursuing a career in community horticulture
This post was submitted by Thryn Murray.
I just bought this eco-friendly razor at my local Whole Foods store. These razors are made from recycled yogurt cups and are quite durable. If you’re worried about quality, I just used mine for the first time and they’re exactly like other razors I’ve used before. You can buy replacement blades for it, and if you’re razor handle ever breaks, you can send it in using a pre-paid mailer downloaded from their site, and they then recycle it into material used to build things like porch decks, benches, picnictables, and children’s playground equipment. You can even use the plastic box it comes in as a travel container instead of packing it up in a plastic bag you’ll throw out after.
This post was submitted by Elizabeth.
I keep a basin under the tap, so when water is running for tooth brushing, washing hands or washing vegetables, I save the water; the washed vegetable’s water, since I use an all natural veggie wash, goes to the plants. The upstairs basin’s water, if it’s clear or only slightly soapy (and no toothpaste has been spit out into it!) gets used for washing hand-washable clothing, or soaking very dirty clothes. Then it gets used to…flush the toilet. Yep, it goes right in there, and we do wait til we need it to use it. If it’s already dirty we just skip the first step and use it directly for flushing. Note: we don’t put the water in the reservoir on top of the toilet, we just dump the basin’s water directly in, and it works fine. We do flush once or twice a day the regular way, but the amount is drastically reduced.
I also do not give my daughter daily baths (as many do in France)- her immune system is, I believe, much the better for it, too! She doesn’t get sick half as often as some of her classmates. I’d say we bathe her about two to three times a week, more in summer due to outdoor activites. “Bird baths” with a washcloth do very well for other days! The same goes for us. I heard Meryl Streep in an interview once; when asked how on earth did she stay looking so young, she replied that unless she’s working on a film she only washes her hair about once a week- and that helps her face stay so young!
Et voilà our little impact reducing action.
This post was submitted by Barbara Weber.
I collect kitchen scraps (fruit and vegies) and feed them to Oscar, my worm bin. The worms eat the scraps and produce perfect compost, which I feed to my terrace garden. I grow tomatoes, eggplant, okra, beets, carrots, basil, rosemary, strawberries, and melon.
I also have a business designing green roofs. I spread the word about green roofs where ever I can. A green roof is a layered system that sustains a lush, growing layer of plants on a roof. It keeps the building cooler and helps to manage stormwater, among other benefits. A green roof can easily be teamed with solar panels to truly develop the potential of rooftop space.
This post was submitted by Inger Yancey.
i’ve created a product to allow inviduals to:
1. spend less money
2. reduce their stress
3. reduce landfill
4. encourage community sharing of resources
this is a retail product that i’m expecting could, of only slightly, change the way people think of clothing and has the potential to reduce carbon footprints on a wide reaching scale. if you would like to receive one of the products for free. let me know.
This post was submitted by nk.
We’ve lived a minimalist lifestyle for thirty-five years in rural Alaska; fourteen years without power, telephone, or running water, and heating our home from the forest on our property. 13 acres includes original growth forest, carefully harvested for firewood, building materials and non-timber resources. The river-flats hold our gardens and small livestock raised for food and trail companions.
We shared our 20×20′ A-frame cabin with our three children who are now contributing young adults, two in the larger world of the lower 48 working to help realize change.
Our choices to live the way we have made sound ecological sense by requiring us to be as self-sufficient as possible and living far within our small financial means. It’s instilled a deep and abiding passion for place and community. Our kids are carrying those convictions with them and returning regularly to refuel while we maintain the homestead.
It’s been a happy, fortunate life.
This post was submitted by Adrian Revenaugh.
On the 1st of each month, I record my car’s mileage to see how far I drove during the prior month. My car travel has done down significantly in recent months as I strive to drive less by grouping errands, walking to get them done, or postponing things until I have a number to do.
This post was submitted by Mary Keil.
Nobody has mentioned spinning. weaving, dyeing, sewing and other 18th C life skills. Not only is spinning fun but you can use your yarn for whatever purpose. I am currently working on angora neckwarmers for my kids. Handwoven dish towels last much much longer than store bought ones. Handknit chenille washcloths are pure luxury. Sewing clothes is fast, easy and cheap.
My sheep eat the lawn, I shear the sheep and use them to make whatever. The black walnuts produce 1) nuts, 2) dye from the husk and 3) VERY strong arm muscles.
One homeschooling project is that we are attempting to make flour from acorns this year. Not sure how that will work but worth a try.
I have goats and cows so fresh milk is in glass containers. The surplus is used for cheese, ice cream, etc. I recycle most kitchen scraps back to the hens. Even olive oil is purchased in metal cans that are put back in play by turning them into lamps. Many types of cans make very cute lamps.
The last time we ate out was a year ago. I make bread, ice cream, everything. And it is better than store bought, cheaper and generates much less trash. When you have a system developed, meals can be * fast food* in less time than it takes to run out and get something. I go to the grocery once every 2 weeks as my cows are dry right now and we use a lot of milk.
Another current project is to cart train one of the goats. Then he can be used to pull a cart to do the * heavy work* here. Plus amuse the kids.
I am not a farmer type. I am a city girl that chose to have better quality foods and has a few acres to do so.
This post was submitted by Mary Margaret.